The creation of lists

By DAVID LEWIS [email protected]

David Lewis lives in Praia da Luz with his wife Shirley, and two children, Ollie and Fraser. Having spent more than 25 years in the City of London, he is now Financial Services Manager with the Oceânico Group.

Lists to me are among my best friends in the world. I have lists for almost everything. At work, I have lists of things to do, lists of things I’ve done and even lists of things I don’t really need to do, but feel I should list just in case.

So now that we have decided to live in Portugal, the opportunity for numerous new lists is almost overwhelming. First, we have the house list. We have decided that, if we are going to make the move then we want to do it quickly. From the day that I received the phone call offering me the job (my ‘JFK’ moment) to the day I have agreed to start, is a period of just three months. Clearly, a lot has to be done. A lot, which, in my view, can only be managed through the careful and strategic use of a large number of lists.

Now, obviously, being us, there is no point in making life easy. We have decided to emigrate during one of the worst recessions in 50 years which, quite clearly, may not prove to be the best exercise in forward planning. This is particularly so now that we are faced with a double whammy – the need to sell both a house and a large Land Rover in a market in which both achievements are akin to winning the Lotto jackpot three weeks on the trot.

Then, of course, there is the removal firm to book. At this point, I have commissioned three quotations from leading removal firms, all of whom have promised to make the transit to our new home as painless and simple as possible. Clearly, however, there has already been some sort of communication breakdown as each appears, from the quotations at least, to be under the impression that we are asking them to move the contents of our entire village, rather than merely our relatively modest list of belongings.

There is schooling to consider as well. Ollie and Fraser are both still at primary stage and we have little idea whether there is a suitable school nearby. How will they get on in a Portuguese school? Is there a decent International School nearby instead? Can we afford it, even if there is? Wasn’t part of the point of our move to immerse ourselves in another culture, so why put them in a little bubble of ‘Englishness’? So many decisions. So many new lists.

Now, thankfully, while I respond to huge and complicated tasks through the creation of huge numbers of lists, I also have a secret weapon. Shirley, my wife. In typical ‘man’ fashion, I spend my time planning and strategising, creating business plans, powerpoint presentations, strategic assessments and, of course, list after list of lists. And, while all this planning and theorising is taking place, Shirley gets on and sorts it all out.

It always amazes me how anyone can cope with so much without the liberal use of lists. I have now contributed to the whole exercise by successfully selling my Land Rover to a local farmer. I believe it was my exceptional sales skills which were largely responsible but confess that it may have well been ultimately down to the fact that I knocked five thousand pounds off the price and, in effect, gave it away in a fit of desperation. I even had the tank filled with diesel (which, of course given my talent for timing, I bought at a peak in the oil price) and the whole vehicle professionally valeted which, I am sure, will be of no small comfort to the various sheep and pigs who will subsequently ride in the back of it.

Shirley, on the other hand, is simply getting on with everything else.  She has managed to get passports for the dogs (to this day, I cannot understand how she got them to sit still for their photos), a removal firm that will look after our belongings as if they are their own, the post has been redirected, outstanding bills have been paid, while, at the same time, making it look as though she is planning a weekend away. And hardly a list in sight!

So, by the time we reach our new home, we will be ready for our new lives in the sun. What could possibly go wrong?

David’s book, Fifty/Fifty, is available from the Griffin Bookstore in Almancil.